Donna Leon: ‘I don’t see any reason to be optimistic about our world. But I’m very optimistic about my life.’ Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

She wrote her first murder mystery in the early 1990s as “a kind of joke”. Some 22 books later, Donna Leon has notched up sales of well over tw(...)

Customarily laconic: Ian Rankin, creator of Rebus. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty

Recently retired, the former Inspector Rebus returns to the ranks of the Edinburgh police in Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible (Orion, €20.50), (...)

A state school teacher shouts slogans in front of a banner that reads “No to the civil mobilisation” during a peaceful protest in central Athens on May 13th. Greece’s conservative-led government issued a civil mobilisation order forcing state school teachers to work during university entrance exams. Photograph: AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis

Imagine an EU member state where the public service relied, for its efficiency, on bribery and corruption. Imagine a state where the hospital service (...)

No mercy: Lazzaro Baldi’s painting of killers attacking the repressive Roman emperor Domitian. Photograph: Galleria Spada/De Agostini/Getty Images

They were a crafty lot, the Romans, when it came to building dynasties, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lindsey Davis’s latest (...)